Lesbians as Village ‘Queers’: The Transformation of Montréal’s Lesbian Nightlife in the 1990s
AbstractGay villages have been developing as a feature of Western cities since the 1980s. By the 1990s, their markets diversified and expanded and they were redefined as ‘queer’ sites. While the incorporation of lesbian nightlife into gay villages played a pivotal role in this diversification, their participation has received limited attention in the urban studies literature. This paper, therefore, uses a case study of Montréal to analyze the relationship between lesbian identities and the production of commodified ‘queer space’ in the city’s Village gai in the 1990s. In contrast with the literature that stresses their exclusions, I argue that this site was productive in terms of reworking lesbian identities. I begin by examining the development of the gay village as a location for lesbian nightlife in the 1990s. Next, I analyze the changing content of lesbian bar advertisements that came with this relocation. Finally, I use in-depth interviews with lesbians regarding their perceptions of the Village, its nightlife spaces and emerging Village lesbian identities. The paper finds that although lesbians often felt marginalized in gay village space, this site was central to the production and expression of new forms of lesbian identity in the 1990s.
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